By: Kelly Brown, B.Sc., N.D., and Acupuncturist
It’s coming to that time of year again, when the allergies (Hay fever) start acting up!! Symptoms of allergies include runny nose, burning eyes, red, itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, difficulty breathing, plugged nose and sinuses. These symptoms are caused by pollen from trees, grass, and plants present in the air during spring time. Eventually, we breathe in this pollen and people who suffer from allergies begin to show symptoms.
Medical treatments are often sought out during this time of year to help reduce the symptoms. Anti-histamines, over the counter allergy medication, and nasal sprays are the most common. Unfortunately they can often cause side effects, such as fatigue or drowsiness. Many nasal sprays can have rebound effects. This means they work momentarily, by constricting nasal blood vessels, but over time the blood vessels dilate again, even larger, causing the symptoms to come back, but worse.
Natural treatment therapies are often a good alternative to these medications or as a complementary therapy. Most natural treatments are preventative, so it is good idea to begin taking them long before allergy season comes around.
Quercetin is an extract from a plant and it is called a flavonoid. Flavanoids help reduce inflammation in the body. By reducing inflammation this decreases the symptoms experienced by seasonal allergies, such as red itchy eyes and runny nose.
Bromelain is extracted from the pineapple steam. Bromelain has two functions for treating seasonal allergies. First, it is an anti-inflammatory and works in the same way as quercetin does by decreasing inflammation in the body. Second, bromelain works in aiding digestion by breaking down fat (acting as a lipase) and protein (a protease). Bromelain should be taken with quercetin to increase absorption throughout your body.
This has been shown to help decrease allergic rhinitis (red and runny nose!). Butterbur has research showing that it is comparable to many prescription allergy medications. It must be avoided if you are allergic to the Asteraceae/Compsitae family (e.g. ragweed, marigolds, and daises).
A multi strain probiotic can ensure that you have the right bacteria in your nasal and sinus passages. This will help reduce the occurrence or relapse of allergy symptoms and the need for antibiotic therapy. Antibiotics are needed when bad bacteria overgrows. This often occurs when amounts of good bacteria are minimal.
Certain dietary restrictions can help in reducing symptoms of Hay fever. For example, cutting out dairy during allergy season reduces the amount of mucous produced in the sinuses, therefore decreasing congestion and runny nose.
Facial acupuncture has been shown to give temporary relief for treating congestion. Immediately after an acupuncture appointment the patient is able to take a deep breath through the nose! It is also a good treatment for muscle pain, relaxation and stress.
The best way to treat allergies is from the inside and to be prepared early on, before the season begins. If you are ready to try natural treatments please consult a Naturopathic Doctor. N.D.’s can help you with doses and ensure any of your medications won’t interact with natural treatments.
This column is sponsored by Good 'n' Natural in Steinbach.